In the recent webcast “What S&OP Capabilities Matter Most”, Lora Cecere made the case that S&OP planning is much too complicated and much too detailed to not use technology. With the number of variables we have in such complex analysis, I definitely agree. I also strongly believe (contrary to some) that technology on its own is not enough. And that was the theme of Bob Ferrari’s blog post as well: The Critical Importance of S&OP Organizational Alignment. Companies need to be aware that having the tools does not guarantee successful planning - even if they pick the right ones, which in some cases is a difficult task. Over and over we advise that having good, reliable data is essential. I think everyone by now is well familiar with the “garbage in garbage out” motto. But another critically important point that companies need to keep in mind is the impact of their own culture and social capital. As Lora mentioned, ‘What If’ capabilities need careful thought. To increase the chances of a successful implementation will require training the team not only on using the selected tool but also preparing their mindset for new processes that they will need to put to work. In some cases, the existing skill set can be adjusted through training, but in other cases the lack of flexibility and an open mind from team members can compromise the effort. So to go back to Bob’s view on the importance of organization alignment, senior management must be supportive and provide guidance on how everyone can conciliate the challenges of managing day to day operations and investing time and effort to prepare for the future. The 21st century supply chain analyst needs to be able to analyze data, build relevant reports on the go, and ultimately make sound decisions. Technology is necessary, but it is only a facilitator.